Revolution (#1 – 5) – John Barber, Cullen Bunn

4 out of 5

Let’s make something clear off the bat: Nothing in Revolution really matters, or will matter.  While I’m sure there are exceptions to the following rule, in general, crossovers – like Revolution – are just rearranging the pieces.  Yeah, sure, maybe someone dies, but you’ll get a slew of new titles and #1s in the wake, and eventually said crossover will be a simple aside in your favorite character’s bio.  The real stuff tends to go down in the ongoing books, in which creators dont have to negotiate around other writers’ properties, or (as) strict editorial mandates.

So, at least for me, if I’m choosing to read a crossover, it’s always done so with a grin-and-bear-it mentality: You’re just getting through this to stay abreast of the nonsense.  And while sometimes I end up being pleased by a surprisingly inventive setup, the goal of these things is to toss everyone in a blender and hit ‘fight,’ so the last issue or two will inevitably be a series of big, battly splash pages that are more confusing (for all the action stuffed in) than anything.

Revolution follows this latter rule.  Thankfully, it also follows the preceding one of being surprisingly entertaining, with writers Bunn and Barber juggling their various Hasbro properties effectively and adding an appreciable touch of humor (dramaturgy another unfortunately common element of crossovers, “world changing” as they tend to be) to keep things moving along.  Another helpful boost – given all the machines and gigantic monstrosities interacting – comes from artist Fico Ossio and colorist Sebastian Cheng, who, as a team, render the large and small and insane all with equal aplomb and bright, easy-to-read zeal.

So what happens?  Aliens.  That’s about it.  I mean, they’re called Dire Wraiths, and people from different dimensions get involved, and the ‘Formers Ore-13 power source is coveted, and we dumb humans confuse Rom and Wraiths and Transformers as all attack-worthy, so constant back-and-forth brawls are the plot device du jour.  And Action Man is there occasionally.  But: Though each issue somewhat focuses on a particular mash-up or set of characters, Barber / Bunn know they have to build up to something (i.e. that last issue splash), so they keep the skirmishes in check by having the principles constantly pausing to question who their enemies are… and then another new threat will emerge before that gets tiring.

Fun art, and a plot that’s aware of its limitations but doesn’t completely skimp on character and dialogue: It’s really the most you can ask from a crossover.  Except, ya know, to actually matter.  But we’ll save that for the five star review.